Pleasant Garden UMC

Pleasant Garden United Methodist Church
Pleasant Garden, N.C. 27313
A History

by Phillip M. Way, August 1988
With Excerpts from Methodism in Guilford County (1967) by Reverend Charles Odell Kennerly


Two years after celebrating 200 years of Methodism in Pleasant Garden, it seems a written history of the stages of growth and development of our church is needed. This booklet by Phillip Way is an attempt to trace the changes that have taken place in Pleasant Garden United Methodist Church history, to include its buildings, parsonages, cemetery, church bell, church music program, and a list of its ministers over the last 100 years. Hopefully, it answers the many questions that have been asked from time to time, and will faithfully document some of our rich Methodist heritage for our children. — Glenn Ayers, August 1988
[County Coordinator’s Note: sections on the church bell and church music have not been included in this excerpt. If you wish to have a PDF of the whole booklet, which is about 7 MB, please contact the county coordinator. The copyright is still held by the author, but the booklet was shared with us by a website patron, who received it from the church.]

A History of Our Church

Pleasant Garden was an early settlement at the cross-roads of the Wagon Road and the Salem-Fayetteville Road. Travelers came from the north almost daily bringing news about events and national movements. Among these were traveling preachers who came as early as 1776 and were known as the “followers of Wesley.” These itinerant preachers organized the converts and followers into class meetings under the lay class leader who was appointed by the preacher in charge.

Some of the early family histories indicate that George Kirkman and some members of his family joined with their neighbors, the Sullivans, Sherwoods, and others in organizing a Methodist Episcopal Church in 1786.

On April 20, 1792, William Shannon sold one acre of land to the Methodist Episcopal Church in Pleasant Garden for twenty shillings (less than $5). The trustees were William Weatherly, John Coe, Daniel Sherwood, George Kirkman and Daniel Sullivan.

According to old records, the first church was built in 1792 and was a log structure 24′ x 30′. The graveyard began about the year 1800. The church stood in the southeastern section of the present cemetery where the William Ross plot is now located. This building served these first members for some fifty years.

The second church, according to Duke University Library records, was built in 1840. “The house was 30′ x 40′ with a 10-foot pitch. It was weatherboarded, ceiled, seated, with pulpit and stove.” This church stood on the north side of the cemetery close to where the Pleasant Garden School gymnasium now stands. The description of the church is most interesting. Few buildings at that time were weatherboarded and sealed for this was all hand work. A stove for heating was a luxury and to have pews with backs made this one of the finest churches in this era of Methodism.

This church was typical of that generation; two front doors with two aisles; the men were seated on the right and the women on the left.

The small Sunday School classes met in the corners of the church and out of these classes came many of the later church leaders. This Church served the congregation during the trying days of the Civil War and the period of transition which followed.

The third church building was begun in 1888, and completed in 1890. It was dedicated on the second Sunday in November 1891. It was located on what is now the parking area adjacent to the present two-story educational building. This was a one-room brick building 40′ x 85′ and was among the first brick churches in the area. The Building Committee was: Madison Tucker, William Tucker, and Horace Wolfe. The Reverend Moses J. Hunt was the pastor during the construction.

In the early 1920’s, under the Leadership of the Reverend A. G. Loftin, this church was rebuilt with a new front entrance and two towers. The capacity of the sanctuary was doubled, and a new educational building was constructed in the rear. This program of expansion was dedicated on June 21, 1931.

The need for more classrooms again became acute, and the congregation, in 1950, began to make plans for a separate educational building. The present two-story educational building was begun in 1952 under the leadership of the Reverend R. P. Waugh, and completed in 1955 under the pastorate of the Reverend C. O. Kennerly.

The present brick parsonage on Sheraton Park Road was built in 1961 during the pastorate of the Reverend P. A. Bruton. It was renovated and enlarged in 1987 during the pastorate of Reverend Don Shuman, our current minister.

Follwoing a study which began in the early 1960’s, the present sanctuary and additional educational facilities were built in 1967-68, during the pastorate of the Reverend E. H. Lowman. These facilities were first used in June 1968. They were debt-free at the end of 1977, and dedicated on April 30, 1978, during the pastorate of the Reverend M. M. Workman.

On October 12, 1986, our church had the distinction of celebrating its bicentennial, which was a complete success. Everyone enjoyed a day of celebration, complete with preaching and costumes of the era. Dr. Richard M. Fields was Chairman of our Bicentennial Committee.

From 1875 until 1945 Pleasant Garden was a part of the Pleasant Garden Circuit which included 10 churches in southern Guilford and upper Randolph counties. By 1919 the Circuit was reduced to 4 churches: Rehobeth, Bethany, Bethlehem and Pleasant Garden; and in 1923 reduced to 3 churches: Rehobeth, Bethlehem and Pleasant Garden. In 1946, Pleasant Garden United Methodist Church became a one-church appointment.

Adapted from Methodist in Guilford County, written by the Reverend C. O. Kennerly
Updated 7/1/88 by Phillip Way

Bishop Francis Asbury Visits Pleasant Garden

Of the many distinguished people who have visited in Pleasant Garden, no one is more honored than the Bishop Francis Asbury.  He is regarded as the Father of Methodism in America.  His influence is felt all the way from New York to Georgia.  For forty-five years he lived the life of an itinerant preacher without a home, and spending only a few days at any place with friends.

He was on a journey from the east toward the west in 1798.  We learn from his journal that he was at Shallotte on November 10.  He writes, “The weather was so cold and the house so open, that I was chilled through my whole system.”  He continued his journey and on November 15, 1798, arrived in Pleasant Garden.  He records, “We rode from the upper branches of Rocky River, twenty miles, to Pleasant Garden.  When I came to the meeting house, I had little strength of mind or body.  We lodged at Daniel Sherwood’s.  My aged brethren and sisters from Maryland and Delaware rejoiced to see me, even as a poor, feeble man.  They had seen me in better times.”  The next day he continued his journey toward South Carolina.

Again, some sixteen months later while he was on a trip from the south toward the north, he was snowbound in Anson County by snow closing the road across the Uwharrie Mountains.  He changed his course and came north around the mountains, crossing the Yadkin River higher up, and on Thursday, February 27, 1800, came to Pleasant Garden.  He writes, “We came to Daniel Sherwood’s in Guilford County.  It rained and snowed on Friday.  I gave an exhortation, and ordained two deacons.  We got our horses shod and then rode on toward the coast.”

Some people live in history because of some deed done or by an association with some great person.  Daniel Sherwood lives in history because of his association with Methodism and Bishop Asbury.  We do know that Daniel Sherwood was a charter member of the church and was one of the first trustees.  According to county records, he owned some 300 acres of land about Pleasant Garden Church which, according to line boundaries, was the late W. D. Hardin land and later known as the Miss Annie Hardin place.  It is now owned by Boren Clay Products Company of Pleasant Garden.  The original house stood about where the entrance to the brick yard turns off Hunt Road south of Pleasant Garden (Plant #3).

Someday we hope to erect a historic marker there to Bishop Asbury in memory of his visits to Pleasant Garden.

Pleasant Garden United Methodist Church Ministers, 1879 – present [1988]

Rev. R. L. Groom (1879), Rev. J. B. Carpenter (1880-1881), Rev. R. M. Hoyle (1882), Rev. John Tillett (1882-1884), Rev. P. L. Groom (1885), Rev. W. W. McFarland (1886), Rev. M. C. Fields (1887-1888), Rev. M. J. Hunt (1889-1890), Rev. T. W. S. Barker (1891), Rev. J. B. Tabor (1892-1893), Rev. S. F. Barker (1894-1897), Rev. R. F. Bryant (1898-1899), Rev. E. J. Poe (1900-1901), Rev. T. B. Johnson (1902-1903), Rev. J. T. Stover (1904-1905), Rev. E. J. Kilgore (1906-1907), Rev. R. A. Taylor (1908-1909), Rev. J. A. Sharpe (1910-1912), Rev. P. L. Ferrell (1913-1914), Rev. C. F. Sherrill (1915-1918), Rev. A. G. Loftin (1919-1923), Rev. John W. Hoyle, Jr. (1923-1925), Rev. A. R. Bell (1926-1928), Rev. J. E. Wommack (1928-1929), Rev. J. T. Ratledge (1929-1931), Rev. G. W. Williams (1931-1933), Rev. R. C. Kirk (1933-1937), Rev. E. E. Snow (1937-1940), Rev. T. F. Higgins (1940-1944), Rev. R. A. Hunter (1944-1949), Rev. R. P. Waugh (1949-1953), Rev. C. O. Kennerly (1953-1957), Rev. P. F. Snider (1957-1959), Rev. P. A. Bruton (1959-1965), Rev. E. H. Lowman (1965-1969), Rev. W. B. A. Culp (1969-1971), Rev. M. M. Workman (1971-1978), Rev. C. Dwight Pyatt (1978-1982), Rev. A. C. Kennedy (1982-1983), Rev. Richard B. Jarrett (1983-1986), Rev. Zane G. Norton (1986-1987), Rev. Donald L. Shuman (1987-present [1988])

booklet section about church cemetery